Institutional arrangements of outgrower sugarcane production in Southern Africa
Management models are needed that empower local communities to produce biofuel feedstock in a manner that drives rural development. Much can be learnt through the accumulated experiences of sugarcane outgrower schemes in southern Africa.
Early schemes provided limited empowerment, but protected outgrowers from the risks of volatile sugar value chains. In later schemes, processing plants were responsible for all operations and simply paid dividends to participating farmers. More recent schemes offer full ownership, which comes with greater rewards and empowerment, but also exposure to risks.
The underlying institutional structures of outgrower schemes largely dictate their performance, and thus the factors that affect their viability or collapse. To understand the different institutional arrangements of sugarcane outgrower schemes we undertake a comparative analysis of 13 schemes in southern Africa employing a political economy framework that uses the three key questions: ‘who owns what’, ‘who does what’, and ‘who gets what’.